Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Torquay United earned their place in the FA Cup 1st round hat courtesy of a glorious goal from Andrews, a sublime left foot strike from Reid and a well worked counter-break build-up culminating in a tap in from the tireless Whitfield, that saw off a strong and spirited Boreham Wood side.
As if reflecting the weather of the preceding week and the resultant surface of the Plainmoor pitch, Torquay United showed at times flashes of bright colourful football contrarily addled with sloppy, loose play. A game that ebbed and flowed between the two teams, the initial momentum in the early stages with Boreham Wood, only for Torquay to step up their quality and dominance, finishing the first half on the front foot and 2 goals to the good.
Boreham Wood then took up the possession mantle early in the second half, with Torquay growing in strength in the mid part, a good game that was uneven as it was enjoyable. Then the lapses and allowing Boreham back into the game and a nervy final few minutes but overall, with its 3-2 score-line, it always felt like Torquay United were going to edge this cup game.
The game started with Boreham Wood attacking strongly with some neat attacking play, both Cundy and Davis needing to be alert to the threat posed. On 15 minutes a good looping free-kick from Andrews into the box saw a Buse effort headed just over the bar. Former Torquay player Tyrone Marsh was finding a lot of the ball and a powerful shot sailed over in a decent position.
Then one of the best moves of the half. Buse picked up a loose ball, set Vincent off on a run and he slotted it through to Davis who saw his powerfully hit shot buffer the side-netting. A frustrating moment ensued as Torquay won a corner and as the ball lofted over into the area, a Boreham defender shoved Buse and left the Torquay midfielder prostrate on the ground. The referee ignored pleas from players and supporters, and merely demanded the corner be taken again. From the corner, Cameron met the ball and his goal-bound header was cleared off the line.
Some lovely passing football saw Vincent drive forward, crossing the ball to Jake Andrews who rounded a defender, take aim from the edge of the area and score a stunning goal. With Boreham Wood still working their way through the middle, another moment of real quality arrived. Reid picked up a ball from a Little pass and with his back to the defence, swivelled and unleashed a 20 yard left-footed strike straight into the top right corner, giving the Wood keeper no chance. Two magic moments.
As the half time whistle fast approached, there was time for an almighty MacDonald kick that very nearly bounced over his counterpart in the Boreham Wood goal. Boreham then started to put pressure on the Torquay defence, both times though the imperious Cundy was equal to their efforts, clearing comfortably.
The second half started as the first had, with just one change to the Boreham Wood side. A strong Boreham Wood build-up with much purpose, Cundy and Wynter both blocking shots and breaking up play. The Torquay midfield continued to work hard, Buse hectoring and chasing, and the impressive Armani Little driving the team’s attack forward.
A relatively aimless pass to the edge of the penalty tempted Shaun Mac to race out unnecessarily to claim and in the process bring down the Boreham forward. Penalty to Boreham Wood. Up stepped Tyrone Marsh sending MacDonald the wrong way and Boreham Wood suddenly had a goal from nothing and their tails up again.
Torquay though were still probing and foraging in the middle, and another great run from the ever-impressive Liam Davis produced an opportunity for Whitfield, but he couldn’t quite direct his shot. Another Davis run found Buse, who with a lovely lay-off looked for Andrews at the far post. Jake stretched but could not find the target on what was a very presentable chance.
Then came another lovely creative move of the game. The busy Andrews found Vincent with a delicate pass and Frankie showed his twinkle toes to dance into the box and then find Whitfield who made no mistake running in at the far post. 3-1 to the Gulls.
Boreham Wood are not a team to lie down and surrender though, and with some strong play rounding the midfield it took an alert Davis to block a shot from their danger man Tyrone Marsh. Chances came and went for both sides. Notably for Andrews and a snap shot from Reid plus more great play from Armani Little, who really was at the heart of creativity for Torquay United. Another great move, a flighted pass to Reid who turned his marker only to be hauled down much to the indignation of the Popside and a booking followed.
Soon after, Gary Johnson made changes as the excellent Jamie Reid made way for Manny Duku, Lewis coming on for Vincent and new father Ruairi Keating joining the game for the energetic Whitfield.
What was culminating in a comfortable 3-1 route to the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup, suddenly became a nervous countdown as a Boreham Wood attack and cross into the box was poked unluckily into his own net by the colossal Robbie Cundy. Pressure from Boreham Wood then ensued, as again this game ebbed and flowed. Thankfully the 4 minutes added time wasn’t enough for Boreham to grab a late equaliser.
So we are in the hat for the 1st round of the historic FA Cup. Traditionally we have seen some great performances over the history of the competition and while the club have never seen their way too far in this trophy, we can dare to dream that our draw is a good one, perhaps at home to a club with a decent away support. Anyone but Woking please.
Shaun MacDonald 6 – Good handling and dealt with everything pretty well. Sloppy for the penalty though.
Ben Wynter 7 – Assured game from the reliable right back.
Liam Davis 8 – But for a couple of mishaps in the 2nd half this was a terrific performance.
Kyle Cameron 7 – A steady performance from our captain.
Robbie Cundy 9 – A colossal display that not even an og could detract from.
Matt Buse 7 – Hard working if a little indolent with some passing.
Frank Vincent 7 – Much like Buse, worked hard but occasionally guilty of stray passing.
Armani Little 9 – Oozed class, was at the heart of everything today. brilliant game. MOTM.
Jake Andrews 7 – A good game capped by a fantastic goal.
Jamie Reid 8 – Scored a trademark turn and shoot with his left, our ambidextrous no.19 could have had a couple more.
Ben Whitfield 7 – Busy, took his goal well.
Joe Lewis 6 – Late sub but still had time to clear the ball with timely headers.
Manny Duku N/A – Looked eager in the short time he was on the pitch.
Ruairi Keating N/A – Sharp, the new dad almost made an instant impact
Man of the Match: Armani Little
This was a real tough one; up until the 55th minute there were three in contention. However for sheer industry, creativity, producing such sublime passing football, for being at the heart of everything, and for just basically working his socks off, Armani Little was immense today.
Player Spotlight: Shaun MacDonald
He really isn’t a bad keeper. He works hard on his game and it was the right decision to bring him into the team for this game. He dealt with corners and set pieces well and his handling is good. Shaun does like to come out off his line and be involved, unfortunately today as was proved this is to his and the team’s chagrin. But he is a very good goalkeeper to have in the squad, as he is vocal and marshals his defensive line well. Right now it is all about continuing to work hard with his game, always looking to improve, and it was good to see Mac today.
Boreham Wood are a good team full of burly players with a lot of strength. There may not be that much finesse or guile in their style, but today they found good space and passed the ball around very well. Tyrone Marsh appears to be a key player and he got a lot of the ball. He can hold the ball up and draws defenders in. Today was a see-saw type of game, with Torquay United on top for periods, then Boreham Wood dominating and pushing us back defensively. They have a well-regimented midfield and a very muscular defensive set-up. Very often we struggle against these physical teams but if anything the lighter touch and slighter stature of our players saw us to victory. But they are a decent looking team who should trouble a few teams in the Conference.
A game of two halves. In the 1st the ref looked like he came to control this game without the use of cards. But in the second he wised up and with some rough treatment on Andrews, niggly tackles in the middle and several cynical blocks and tackles on Reid, plus an unnecessary challenge from MacDonald, out they came!
Key Moment: Jake Andrews Goal
Today was encouraging. We didn’t allow ourselves to get wholly outmuscled by a strong, physical team. We held our own against their brawn and bustling football. This was the best game I’ve seen Armani Little play. He played with assurance and stealth that frustrated the Boreham Wood midfielders. There was some very good performances all-round, some well-constructed football played, two moments of brilliance for the first two goals and a great move for the third. Torquay United are moving in the right direction with Gary Johnson’s tutelage.
Barrow AFC at Plainmoor, 26th October – 3pm Kick-Off